Sanrai Med INDIA
Ways to Stay Healthy During the Cold and Flu Season if You Have COPD

Colds and flu are common during the winter months. At some point, we are all affected by getting a cold that turns into an annoyance for a week. 

For Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients, a cold, flu, or other viral infection can make it difficult for them to breathe, causing potentially fatal complications. 

People with COPD experience a surge in COPD symptom exacerbation if they develop cold or any viral fever. However, people with COPD are also most likely to catch viral respiratory infections in the first place. Taking extra precautions to save yourself from catching a virus is extremely crucial for COPD patients in winters to reduce any health complications. 

How to Avoid Getting a Cold or the Flu

With the high risk of catching a viral respiratory infection, people with COPD need to take proper care of themselves and boost their immunity to fight any potential infection from affecting their health.  

Here are the effective steps you can take to improve your immune response

1. Get the annual flu vaccine

The flu can be life-threatening for people with COPD, making the flu shot the best protection for their health. Not just yourself, get your family members to get vaccinated on time to reduce the risk of getting exposed to the flu. 

The more people that are vaccinated against the flu, the greater the herd immunity will be, meaning that if a certain person is immunocompromised in a community, an outbreak of a virus is much less likely to happen.

2. Getting the pneumonia vaccination

Pneumonia vaccination is crucial to prevent severe complications in COPD patients, especially during winter. People with COPD are more likely to develop pneumonia and other respiratory diseases after getting the flu. 

Vaccination against Streptococcus pneumonia helps to minimise the severity of COPD exacerbations caused by respiratory infections.

3. Stay away from crowded places

The common cold and the flu are contagious diseases. As viruses can easily be transmitted through the air, it's better to keep a safe distance. Reducing your exposure to crowds decreases your chances of getting the flu. 

Also, you must avoid coming into contact with family members, friends, or people with colds or the flu to keep yourself safe.

4. Stock up on your medications

Buying your prescribed medications beforehand and stocking them up will prevent you from hauling them to the pharmacy when you fall sick and limit your exposure to other potentially sick people.

Antibiotics and steroids are often prescribed to COPD patients. However, it's important to only take the medication with a doctor’s prescription

5. Avoid smoking and smokers

COPD patients must prevent themselves from getting exposed to smoking or smokers as it will damage their lungs further.

6. Keep a tap on air quality

Winter generally lowers the AQI, making the air quality dangerous for people with COPD. Keep yourself indoors during these times. 

How to manage COPD in the Winter Season

Extreme temperatures adversely affect COPD patients more than healthy people, whether it’s extremely cold or extremely hot. Here are the following suggestions to avoid the risk this winter -

1. Check Air Quality

Pollution shoots up in the winter season and turns fatal for people with COPD. To prevent yourself from getting affected by air pollutants, monitor the air quality around you and take precautions as much as possible. This includes wearing masks and avoiding going outside with the AQI is poor.

2. Cover Your Nose and Mouth

Always try to cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or mask when you are outside. It will stop you from inhaling minute air pollutants. 

3. Avoid Wood Burning and Fire

Winter is a season of getting cosy around the fireplace, but for COPD patients, being in contact with the smoke from a fire can be fatal. COPD symptoms can be aggravated by fire smoke or fireplaces, resulting in breathing trouble. 

Instead of burning wood fires in your backyard, get cosy warm yourself under a pile of blankets and enjoy your time reading or watching TV.

4. Do Indoor Exercises 

Regular prescribed breathing exercises provide loads of benefits to your health and can help to tackle COPD complications. Exercise can help increase the capacity of the lungs, thus making them stronger.

What should you do if you think you may be getting sick?

Stick to your COPD plan, drink plenty of fluids, and take a rest. If it works, then it seems that your COPD is under control. It's important to consult a doctor before taking any medication, including over-the-counter medications.

If you sense that your COPD is getting worse, call your healthcare provider immediately. Doctors can prescribe medications to ease the exacerbations complications, such as increased bronchodilator therapy, antibiotics, or oral steroid medicines. 

If you experience symptoms, especially when you have a cold or flu symptoms, like shortness of breath, increased coughing and wheezing, changes in mucus colour, extreme fatigue, headache, dizziness, or unexplained weight loss, then it's a warning to call for immediate action. 



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